TACOMA, Wash., Dec. 7, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- To meet the growing needs of the South Sound community, CHI Franciscan's St. Joseph Medical Center worked with Seattle Children's neonatology program to expand to a new Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) now open to accommodate newborns across the system requiring specialty care.
The 15,000 square foot unit is more than five times larger than the previous space with 11 new bassinets to increase care for at-risk mothers and premature newborns with special needs. The expansion will allow the hospital to accommodate more critically ill babies and address high occupancy rates, meaning fewer families will have to travel to Seattle or elsewhere for care.
"The need for specialized neonatal care has increased throughout our region, and we are excited for the completion of this vital space to care for our tiniest patients," said Ketul J. Patel, CEO of CHI Franciscan. "With our expansion, patients and families can rest assured that they have access to the highest-quality care and expertise close to home."
The NICU now offers 16 Level III bassinets, 18 Level II bassinets, and 15 private rooms with the latest technology and equipment. A Level III designation means the facility can care for babies born before 32 weeks, weigh less than 3 pounds 5 ounces, have certain medical conditions or require surgery.
The NICU is a collaborative effort between CHI Franciscan and Seattle Children's neonatology program, which provides 24/7, on-site neonatal physicians and nurse practitioners who support the specialty staff in place at St. Joseph Medical Center.
"Seattle Children's is proud to collaborate with CHI Franciscan to expand access to top-tier neonatal care for families in the South Sound," said Pam Rock, Vice President of Medical Service Lines and Specialty Programs at Seattle Children's Hospital. "We look forward to continue driving these efforts today to serve families and the community for many years to come."
St. Joseph Medical Center houses the busiest birth center in Pierce County with an average of 4,000 deliveries a year. As a system, CHI Franciscan delivers over 8,000 babies annually, and the majority of both antepartum at-risk mothers as well as newborns with more complex Level II or with Level III needs, are cared for at St. Joseph Medical Center.
Access to specialized care delivered by highly trained professionals is an important asset to the community. Research shows that high-quality care delivered close to home produces the best immediate and lifelong outcomes.
This is part of CHI Franciscan's ongoing effort to expand obstetric and neonatal care options to Puget Sound families. Earlier this year, Virginia Mason and CHI Franciscan opened a new birth center together on the Virginia Mason Campus. The new 20,000 square-foot birth center offers a range of comprehensive women's health and obstetric options as the region continues to grow and more capacity is needed.
About CHI Franciscan
CHI Franciscan is a Catholic nonprofit health system based in Tacoma, Washington. One of the largest health systems in Washington state, CHI Franciscan is comprised of more than 12,500 physicians, advanced practice clinicians, nurses, and staff that provide expert, compassionate medical care at 10 acute care hospitals and more than 220 primary and specialty care clinics throughout the greater Puget Sound. As part of CommonSpirit Health, and as a member of every community we serve, we bring together medicine, kindness, respect, and compassion to help people truly begin to heal. We honor our values and legacy by investing in our communities. In 2019 we provided $197 million in community benefits, including free, subsidized, and reduced cost health care and programs. We are also the only Washington State hospital system that accepts an unlimited number of Medicaid patients. Follow CHI Franciscan on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/CHIFranciscan, Twitter @CHIFranciscan and Instagram @chi.franciscan or go to our website for information www.chifranciscan.org.
SOURCE CHI Franciscan